According to Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox, in a footrace between the much quicker Achilles and a much slower tortoise, wherein the later starts with a lead, Achilles could never hope to catch the tortoise. Indeed, no matter how long he runs, he could never even reach the starting point from which the tortoise began the race ahead of him. In order to do so, Achilles would first have to travel half the distance between his own starting line and that or the tortoise, and before reaching that halfway point, he would first have to travel half the distance between his own staring line and the halfway point, and so on, ad infinitum.
The character arcs of the various protagonists of Star Wars (both the films and the comics) suffer a similar dilemma. For example, where Luke is at on his own personal journey at the end of A New Hope and the beginning of The Empire Strike Back are both fixed points (and it is known that he did not develop all that much in the given time frame). Thus, any story about Luke set between those two films, such as Jason Aaron’s ongoing series, is limited in how much character development the fledgling Jedi can undergo.
In the outstanding first arc of Aaron’s Star Wars, Luke already traverses much of the emotional and psychological distance between his reception of the medal on Yavin-IV and his discovery of the probe droid on Hoth (for argument’s sake, let’s call it halfway). Now any story set between Luke’s confrontation with Boba Fett on Tatooine and the aforementioned scene on Hoth could at most cover the other half. But Marvel’s Star Wars comic is an ongoing series, so Aaron needs to leave Luke room to grow in the additional issues between the end of any one arc and the eventual beginning of Empire. Thus, as the series progresses, there is less and less room for the character to grow; from issue to issue, Luke’s psychological progression would get halved, then halved again, ad infinitum.
Of course, there won’t be an infinite number of issues of Star Wars, just as Achilles does not have to undergo an infinite series of movements; the son of Peleus would of course catch up to and overtake the tortoise, just as Luke, along with Han, Leia, Chewie, Artoo, and Threepio, will eventually make it to the frozen wastes of Hoth.
Zeno’s Paradox is, however, an excellent illustration of the likely cause behind the general drop in quality between the series’ opening issues on Cymoon-1 and its recent installments on Nar Shaddaa. That’s not to say that these issues are bad in themselves; merely that, while the plot advances briskly, with respect to the characters Aaron is already starting to spin the wheels in place.
The prime example of this is Han and Leia. The latter had already professed her love for the scruffy looking nerf-herded halfway through the third issue, a good four years before the events of Bespin. In order to prevent advancing on their love story too quickly, as continuity would prohibit, Aaron introduced the character of Sana Starros, who claimed that she and Han were married, quickly cooling the princess towards him.
The truth of the sham wedding thankfully comes out in this issue, hopefully putting an end to further appearances by Sana. On one of issue #12’s variant covers Jaxxon* appears, and the reviled green Lepi would certainly have made a better addition to the cast than the obviously deceitful/delusional broken record that was Sana. I’d say she’s the Jar Jar of Aaron’s run, but that’d be an insult to the bungling Gungan.
And while the second arc is certainly a letdown compared to the first, as the climax of that arc this issue is definitely the best among the six, especially given the big set piece moments. Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, all with lightsabers in hand, slashing away at an arena full of disarmed Stormtroopers, is a moment fans will not soon forget.
This, along with Luke’s confrontation with Kongo the Disemboweler and Krell’s fight against Grakkus the Hutt, gives Immonen plenty of opportunity to illustrate the kinetic action scenes he’s best at. Because of such, issue #12 may be his best work on the series to date. However, it does suffer somewhat in comparison to other artists’ takes on the character in several of Marvel’s recent series, particularly Checchetto on Shattered Empire and Deodato on this week’s Vader Down.
In isolation, Showdown on the Smugglers’ Moon was a decent arc, and the adrenaline-fueled climax here makes for a genuinely great issue. However, as both Zeno’s Paradox and Aaron’s run thus far demonstrate, the quality of this run is trending downward and is likely to continue in that direction (if Aaron had any better ideas for these characters, why would he have introduced Sana into the mix?). Hopefully the upcoming Vader Down crossover, already off to an amazing start in the one shot, will reverse this trend and breath some new life into the series, bring it from “worth checking out” back to “an instant classic and a worthy of the mantel of ‘Episode Four Point Five.’”
*Correction: Jaxxon appears on one of the variant covers of this week’s Vader Down #1, not Star Wars #12.